We chat with Creative Director Luis Coderque at Bruce Mau Design, about BMD interns, the complications of designing for yourself and the importances of making sure you are getting the most out of a internship.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?
As a teenager, I was a magnet for bouncers at the clubs. The fact that I always looked younger than my age made it impossible for me to get in. That kept me away from night life and I stopped embarrassing my friends at the line. This gave me the perfect excuse to keep skateboarding for much longer. I got immersed in the skate culture, where you quickly get surrounded by cool graphics, illustrations on the boards, magazines, stickers, videos, brands… all these aesthetic planted a seed on me.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
After my second year studying Chemistry, I started questioning things and my future. I always wanted to study Arts but the educational system didn’t help to get me there. I planned to go and study abroad but studying Graphic Design in the 90’s was not a very common thing in Spain. So I quit University, which came as a big shock for my family. They didn’t understand creative dreams. I worked during a full year as a waiter at weddings, events and fashion shows to save money to pay for my studies in the United States, but that still wasn’t enough. I ended up studying at a local place that taught a bit of design history, but mainly how to use the Adobe package. On my second year, they called me to say that there were not enough students to run the program so they decided to discontinue the course. Not a smooth start! Luckily at that time I was doing an internship at a small Ad Agency and that’s how I started. To be honest, I probably learnd five times more than what I would have learnt in my second year..
What’s your take on internships?
I think internships are a great way of learning but can also be a big waste of time. To make the most out of them, there has to be a plan before an intern starts. That plan has to come from the studio and from the intern. Knowing what the intern wants to take out of the experience is crucial. I saw situations where a team is really busy working towards deadlines and it makes it really hard for an intern to get involved. On the other hand, a proactive intern will manage to jump into the group by helping and making themselves a name within the team, showing their skills and how he/she can be a great asset to the team.
We have a local internship program with one of the design schools here in Toronto where someone comes for a three month period. We also have an international internship program, where we get people from around the world to come and work with us 6-12 months at one of our offices.
Any passion projects you would like to share?
For many years, I have been trying to launch a lifestyle brand that is an alternative to the skate/surf & snowboard culture brands. I found that designing for yourself is the most difficult project I’ve ever done. It’s very hard to please yourself because there is always a better or a different way to do things. Plus, you need to put yourself datelines – if not you can go over and over on a loop, as I did. Years after, my lovely son was born and he brought me a new perspective towards life. I started to rethink the whole project and steering it towards a kids’ brand. 9 birthdays later, I am planning to make screen printed T-shirts for him. I love that it is now more about the exploration and having fun together. The best thing will be if he starts art directing me.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
At a young age, I had the chance of being part of a big branding project for the city I grew up in – Madrid. Due to the small size of the office I was working for and the resignation of a CD, I found myself having to step up and taking up more responsibilities. 10 years later, my mother still shares with me photos of the branding every time she sees it around.